A Risotto Adventure

As I had mentioned the other day, I’d been doing some reading while working, and one of the things they have available for reading are old issues of magazines, such as Cooking Light. In the March issue of the magazine, there is a recipe that piqued my interest – Risotto with Italian Sausage, Caramelized Onions and Bitter Greens. I actually went through the effort of manually writing the recipe down by hand; of course, I then found out that I could print it, but it actually was cool being able to cook off of your own handwriting. 😉

Anyway, before I could actually get to the business of cooking the food, I had to gather some of the ingredients; specifically the sausage, shallots, wine, cheese and arugula. I also had to go to my bank to deposit my paycheck. Now, unlike most people, I have to travel 18 miles to get to the bank (something that I’m going to get sorted out sooner rather than later), so I decided that I’d stop at an Aldi that is right in the neighborhood of my bank.

I go around the store, find the stuff I came there for, along with some other provisions for the week ahead (and the months ahead, considering that I got table salt 😉 ), and head into the checkout line. Now, if you’re not aware of their policies there, you cannot use a credit card to pay your bills – it saves them money in having to pay credit card fees. However, you can use a debit card, and that was the plan that I tried out.

It didn’t work. I tried it three times, and all three times I saw the message “300 – Denied” – the clerk said that she was seeing an error that the card was an unrecognised card. Fortunately, she could just set aside my order, and allowed me to go to the ATM to get cash. Thus begins the next part of the adventure – finding a low or no-fee ATM to use (now that I think about it, I could have just run down to my bank and used the ATM there as it took longer to do what I did instead of just running those 6 blocks or so). Anyway, I try the first bank which is across the street; this is the same bank that has branches in just about every grocery store in the area, and at those, their convenience charge is $1.50 – not at this one though. They wanted $2.50 to use the drive-up machine. No deal I though, so I went to the grocery store across the street, and settled for paying $2.00 to get money out of the bank, and went back to Aldi to pay for my shopping ($18.95 – most expensive item, white wine – $2.99 for 750mL).

The next step should have been quite easy – go to the normal grocery store and pick up the rest of the ingredients. However, thanks to the bizarre setup of the store, I wound up spending so long in there that I got the call I had been waiting for – one from my mom wondering as to where I was. As it had happened, I had finally found where they had the grated cheeses (in the dairy case – at the very far back end of the store, and hidden at that). The redeeming news of it all is that I did get quite a bit of walking done – shoulda brought my pedometer. 😉

Now, on to the cooking!

I should note from the outset that I used slightly different ingredients to the list set out by the recipe, mostly due to not having the exact items, and not finding the exact items. I used regular chicken broth (4 cubes of bullion and 5 cups of water to match the order they have in the recipe, which I now realize should have only been 4½ cups…I think that much evaporated out of the pan while it was simmering), along with regular Italian Sausage.

It all started by sauteing chopped onion and sugar until it was brown; I didn’t get it fully browned, but trying a bit of the mixture while it was sitting, it didn’t taste too bad.

Onions sauteing in oil

Then, the next step was to take the onion out and fry up some Italian Sausage (the recipe calls for sweet, and I believe mild is the same thing); you could also just buy some Italian seasoned sausage from the store (the stuff you use for pizza) and use the sausage which has had the skin removed (not as bad as I thought it would be). You simply crumble it up when it’s frying –

Italian Sausage in the pan

Then the tiring part of the cooking begins where you have to stand over the pan, stirring it constantly while you add the rice, shallots, and the liquid (you can’t add it all at once, because it has to be completely absorbed before you can add more). I think the reason for the constant stirring is that you don’t want to let the mixture sit still for a long time and allow the liquid to evaporate out.

The next couple of pictures show how much the consistency of it changed in the 20 or so minutes that I was stirring it up. It’s hard to believe that, when you look at the final product, it was only 1 cup of rice that was put in, but that’s all that was called for.

First shot of stirring
Just after adding the first of the liquid – 1/3 cup wine.

risotto4
About 8 minutes in; note how much more pan is covered.

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After 15 minutes, look at how big the grains of rice have become.

After getting the liquid put in, the next step was to put in the arugula, onions and some lemon zest (though i think that could have been done without; I’m not a fan of the zest of citrus), along with some of the infamous romano cheese that I had such a hard time finding. Since the whole pot was still very warm, the greens wilted right down and almost melted into the rest of the dish.

Finished Risotto

As far as how it was received – I liked it, but it did have a bit of too much of a lemony flavor to it, probably due to the zest of the lemon, but it was certainly an interesting dish – and now that I know that the rice we’ve had for quite a long time is still good – one that I wouldn’t mind to try again, but this time with different ingredients. I didn’t mention the cheese being added to my mom, but she didn’t mind it either as far as I can tell. 🙂

I think risotto is one of those very versatile recipes that you can do a ton of stuff with. Who knows, I might be making risotto every week now. 😉

2 thoughts on “A Risotto Adventure

  1. I love risotto and this one sounds yummy! Glad it was worth all the effort getting the ingredients. I believe one of the reasons you add the liquid slowly and stir the whole way through is to allow the rice to release its starch – that’s what makes it so creamy. I agree its a really versatile recipe – I have a basic recipe I often make and just add whatever I have in the fridge to it.

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